MANILA, Philippines – Around 3 weeks after Deniece Cornejo filed a rape case against Vhong Navarro, the actor faces a new one, this time, filed by a young woman, reported ABS-CBN.
UPDATE: The alleged victim has appeared in an exclusive interview aired on GMA 7’s 24 Oras, where she agreed to be identified by her real name, Roxanne Acosta. The report said that the 24-year-old found the courage to step out in public in order to fight for justice for what happened to her.
Speaking to DZMM, the complainant’s lawyer, Virgilio Batalla said the complaint was filed to the Pasig City Prosecutor’s office on Wednesday, February 19.
Batalla revealed that the alleged rape happened in 2010, but gave no other details saying his client had not given him the go signal to give specifics on the case.
When asked why his client waited a couple of years to file the complaint, Batalla explained that alleged victims have 20 years to file a case.
“Ang kasong rape ay may 20 years na prescription. Karamihan po sa mga kaso na rine-resolve ng Korte Suprema ay mga kasong matagal na na panahon. This is natural for a victim of rape na matagalan bago mag-file,” he said. (A rape case has a 20-year prescription. Most of the cases being resolved by the Supreme Court are cases from a long time period of time. To take a long time before filing is natural for a victim of rape.)
Explaining how he became the complainant’s lawyer, Batalla said that he is chairman of Lingap Pinoy, a foundation that provides free legal assistance to those in need.
Strength from Deniece
Batalla said his client approached him to ask for legal assistance around 5 days after the Vhong Navarro incident made headlines.
Cornejo, however, said Navarro attempted to rape her and that the actor’s injuries were sustained after her friends Cedric Lee and company came to defend her. Cornejo, in late January, filed a rape case against Navarro.
In an earlier interview in Aquino and Abunda Tonight, Batalla said it was within her rights to decide when to file the case and that he cannot answer for his client’s feelings. He furthered that his client only had the strength to come forward when news about the incident headlined.
“Lumapit sakin ang biktimang ito dahil nagkaroon ng lakas ng loob sa mga pangyayaring alam niyo na po ‘yon… Yung pangyayaring may nagsampa ng kaso kay Vhong Navarro ng rape, dahil sa nakita niya na pwede palang mangyari ito nang paulit ulit sa mga babaeng katulad niya,” he said.
(This victim approached me because she gained strength from the incident… The incident where someone filed a rape case against Vhong Navarro, because she saw how it can happen again and again to women like her.)
Connection to Cedric Lee?
Batalla told DZMM that he and his lawyer wife thoroughly studied his client’s case before accepting it. Batalla said he is not aware of any link between his client and Cedric Lee’s camp.
Navarro’s legal counsel Alma Mallonga, however, thinks otherwise.
“Of course, merong koneksyon (there is a connection),” she said in a separate interview in Aquino&Abunda Tonight.
She said their camp was not surprised when the case came out and that they are expecting other cases to surface in the future. She said the new case was “not unexpected.”
“Some weeks ago, Cedric had already been saying that he’s been talking to some women and I understand that his lawyer has said na mayroon silang pasabog (they have an explosive revelation),” she said.
“Sabi ko nga hindi kami nagulat, ang intindi pa nga namin, this is going to be the first of others, please expect na after this, meron pang ibang lalabas.” (Like I said, we weren’t surprised, as we understand it, this is going tobe the first of others, please expect others to come out.)
‘Cornejo rape didn’t happen’
She also took notice of the complainant’s reason for filing the case, saying the alleged attempted rape on Cornejo could not have possibly happened.
“If you’re saying that you were inspired by Deniece’s own complaint of rape, alam na natin as a matter of fact na hindi ‘yon nangyari. Imposible dahil nakita natin sa ating dalawang mata na hindi iyon posibleng nangyari.” (We know for a fact that it did not happen. Impossible because we saw with our own two eyes that it could not have possibly happened.
She added, “You cannot rape who was not there. You cannot witness a rape when the victim is not even there.”
According to Mallonga, Navarro, who was discharged from the hospital two weeks after the incident, is aware of the new case filed.
“Of course malungkot si Vhong (Of course Vhong is sad), but this has made him more determined to see this thing through.”
The case is now in the hands of the National Bureau of Investigation, which earlier filed a complaint against Cornejo, Lee, and company for serious illegal detention, serious physical injuries, grave threats, grave coercion, unlawful arrest, and threatening to publish and offer to prevent such publication for a compensation.
According to Mallonga, a hearing regarding the illegal detention case against Cornejo and Lee is scheduled on February 21. – Rappler.com